Ruling in Nevada County kidnapping, false imprisonment case favors prosecution and defense
February 15, 2018
Layla Callahan and David Munoz, charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment, again will face a robbery accusation, Nevada County court documents state.
Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger ruled on Tuesday, Feb. 12, that prosecutors could add the second-degree robbery charge after another judge dismissed it last year. That part of the decision, a win for the district attorney's office, favors the defense in another way. The ruling also states that prosecutors can't add an allegation of great bodily injury against Callahan, 23, and Munoz, 26.
That means the pair can't face a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole if convicted, said defense attorney Zenia Gilg, who represents Callahan.
"I understand her decision on the robbery," Gilg said. "But I'm thrilled about the bodily harm decision."
According to the ruling, the victim handed over his cellphone when the defendants became confrontational and asked for it. A different judge ruled that no evidence established that it was taken against the victim's will.
However, Heidelberger states that evidence indicates the defendants threatened the victim's family. Additionally, the victim had his mother collect him from the airport instead of Callahan because he was scared.
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When the victim handed over his phone, he did it out of fear, Heidelberger ruled.
"The element of intent to deprive can be inferred from the fact that phone was taken and not returned, as well as the circumstances under which the phone was taken," the ruling states.
Pivoting to the argument of whether great bodily injury occurred, Heidelberger found that the evidence fails to show "significant, substantial, or serious injury."
Medical records show no complaints of pain from the victim. They also state nothing about any treatment he needed. A physical exam led to no further tests, the ruling states.
Callahan and Munoz face accusations that in early 2017 they held a former boyfriend of Callahan's at his home over a drug debt. The man was released at some point and he went to police. Authorities arrested Callahan and Munoz in February 2017.
Callahan, who's asked for a bond reduction, remained in the Nevada County Jail on $295,000 bond on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Munoz has no bond, authorities have said.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the accusations.
Union Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy can be reached at 530-477-4239 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.